Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year's Eve Remembered (Pt. 2)

The scene was 606 Morrow Ave. in the little sleepy town of Pineville, NC. The date and time: 31 December, 1987, 11:30 PM.
My sons (see pic. They've grown facial hair since then ...) were 8 and 6 respectively -- and about to fall asleep whilst playing Mario Bros. on their Nintendo.
Their goal, however, had been to stick around until the big Times Square Explosion hit the TV, at which time we'd flick Mario off and hit the channels.

They weren't gonna make it, though.
So I grabbed a quick cuppa coffee from the kitchen and, bein' the daddy that I was, went into the living room to get them to bed.

But then ... I made a mistake!

I told 'em: Okay, boys, I know you wanna watch the New Year come in, but you're gettin' sleepy, so let's get ready for bed. They agreed -- then the future Relic put his ever-lovin' foot in his mouth:

Go on now ... and daddy will see you NEXT year!!

At that, Mike looked frightened and started to cry. So I tried to comfort him. "Guys, tomorrow's New Year's DAY ... so you'll see me tomorrow and it'll be the new year! Seeee?" I chuckled at my little "joke" and turned to walk back and put my coffee on the kitchen table.

I didn't make it. No, they didn't see ...

and the coffee spilled alllll over the flooor as my older son, Tim's, foot grew to be about a size 16-with-spike-toe and landed squarely in my ... well, the sun don't shine there, anyway ...

He was furious! "Daaaad, don't EHHHH-VURRRR do that to us again! You scared the ..." folks, I didn't think he even knew the word ... "out of us! Now, TELL MIKE YOU'RE SORRY!"

I did ... then asked Tim if he wanted his shoe back -- if I could pull it out of my ...

Anyway, this is the last episode you'll be reading of this blog until next year (stop applauding!) ... but I'll be back within 48 after it starts with more, so stay tuned ... and

Thursday, December 30, 2010

A New Year's Eve Remembered

Let's see ... in about ... ohhhh, I'd say 30 hours (from the time I typed this, anyway), we'll be done with this year.
FINALLY! COMPLETELY!! ABSOLUTELY!! IRREVOCABLY!! FOREV... oh ... ahem!(heh-heh!) ... guess I sorta got, ummm, carried away there! Let's move on ...

One of my best memories of NYE occurred back in 1984. While I was still hammerin' out the script to the Superock! rockumentary, I was pickin' up some extra green doin' the graveyard shift at the A & P on South Boulevard in Charlotte. Now, since it was New Years' Eve, the boss let us take an hour-long break to see the '85 come in. At 11:30 PM, I took off for a nearby neighborhood with a... well, a "prop" I'd brought with me. A friend of mine lived there, and, each year, he brought out his .22 and shot into the air when the clock struck "twelve".
This time, though, he was in for a ... wellll, a little "surprise."

11:50 PM -- I parked the Funky Fury about a block from his house and nearly tip-toed to the position I planned: right, front, next to the corner of the house, away from the bedroom window. He always came out the back door, poised himself against the back corner, same position, and fired.

11:59:30 PM -- I heard the back-door close and the shuffling as he went down the steps. This was it; I put my little "prop" into position. As soon as I heard the gun fire, I quickly leaned back and threw the prop over the roof, so it'd come down almost in front of him!

The prop? A rubber chicken! He screamed something with the initials "WTF?", and ran around the side of the house where I was ... with chicken in one hand, the .22 in the other, and a noticeable wet spot in the front of his pants!

I learned something that night. Never play a joke like that on a half-drunk dude with a .22 in his hands. Fortunately, he had a fairly decent sense of humour (I found that out after the "police" came into the store that New Year's morning and "arrested" me. As they took me away in an unmarked car, I asked what it was all about. They took me to a gay club [I'm NOT gay, btw! Nothing against them; follow the story ...] and deposited me on the front lot, where my friend was standing ... with a camera!).

Aftermath: We got a kick outta those photos he took, although a few nights later, they were suddenly ... er, "missing" ... for some reason (no, he ain't gonna get 'em back, either!). He, on the other hand, no longer eats chicken.

Oh, well ... Hey, listen -- Part II of this will be coming up within the next twenty hours, so stay tuned ...


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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Resolutionary Wars

Okay ... it's a few days before the big ball drops (which somehow reminds me that I've gotta Rocket J. Dogg in for neutering on Monday ...), but, in case you're busy on that day, let me wish a HAPPY 2011 TO EVERYONE!

Actually, I think we're all happy "2010" is gettin' outta the way (hmph ... and you thought I'd lost it there. Nope. Lost it thirty-five years ago). And the best part is that (geez ... I was talkin' about my hair!! At least I began to ...) we've got an unused model (so far, it's still got the sticker on it) that we can make into anything we wanna.
Most of us have already made resolutions ... but, in about a week, some are gonna wonder why they haven't worked out. They think resolutions, like the money that bill collectors hound us for, must be due immediately, and transacted in full!

But it doesn't work that way. Y'see, it's a two-sided word: On the one hand, the noun "resolution" comes from the word, "resolve", which means "determination"; on the other hand, the verb and the computer versions of it means "clarification".
So if we can clarify our desire, and work at it with determination, we're there!But it doesn't happen overnight ... ya gotta keep workin' at it until that desire becomes a reality!

Sometimes, we don't get it because we're so busy living in our little "comfort zones" that we tailor our resolutions to fit that, as we've always done. Remember the old saying, though (page 238 of the Old Sayings songbook): "If you always think like you always thought, you'll always get what you always got!" I think it means "always".

So, this year, I'm calling for a Resolutionary War! Gettin' out from under the blanket of that comfort zone, taking a few calculated risks, and, even if we're feeling a bit like a fish outta water (any fish except cod. I believe in cod ...), going for it if it's honorable!
But we've still gotta be patient while these resolutions take hold. That's the hardest part. But if you really, really want those rezzies to work, then throw back the covers of your comfort zone, get outta that bed of familiarity and rattle them pots and pans of positive movement!
And you can shake-rattle-&-roll yourself through a pretty decent 2011!


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Saturday, December 25, 2010

Mousy Resolutions

ALL right, mousers .... we can come out now (remember? We hadta stay incognito last night [" not a creature was stirring, not even one of us"])

Hey -- and don't knock Rocket J. over there. Yeah, I know he's not one of us ... officially, but he is considered part of the gang by proxy (in other words, he's a "rodent"). Besides, the dude looks happy, and that's what counts ...

Anyway ... with The Great New Year of 2011 only a week away, I've been wonderin' if any of my FMs have made resolutions yet (FMs are Fellow Mousers. Not to be confused with FBs, though they can be FBs and FMs if only on the QT and ... nevermind. Let's move on ...).

I always get confused about that word. Look at it: RESOLUTIONS. Now, if ya take the suffix "re" (which means "starting again") and solutions (which means "answers to problems"), then does that mean we didn't solve the problem correctly the first time??

But, whatever its meaning, the word's gonna be used a lot over the next few days, established and sworn to on January 1 and quietly ignored by many over the following 364 afterward.
Except here. In the Mouse House.
Because we remember our Fearless Leader ... a man who helped people build and keep positive resolutions ...

This is a life we live in, people -- emphasis on the word "LIVE". And Uncle LL, throughout his llong llife, wanted those around him to be Alllive and Kicking (no relllation to the band that did "Tighter and Tighter" back in 1970. btw, Didja know that Pepe and Sandy are still on the road with them?? 'Tis true ...)
To be serious for a minute (59 ... 58 ... 57 ... gotta hurry ...), what Lloyd meant is probably best summed up in the words of the immortal Mel Brooks, who said:

Look, I don't want to wax philosophic, but I will say that if you're alive you've got to flap your arms and legs, you've got to jump around a lot, for life is the very opposite of death, and therefore you must at very least think noisy and colorfully, or you're not alive.

Now, I dunno about you, but that is the resolution that comes at Number One for yer Cuzzin Relic ... and it's gonna stay there for the full 365.

Hey ... why not join in?? Hey ... it's anything but mousy ...


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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

They Made It ROCK ...

It's become a lost art form ... and, sadly, the ones who perfected it are thinning out too quickly.

Who wasn't shocked when, on that black October morning, we awoke to find our fearless leader, Lloyd Thaxton, had gone on to the Ultimate Gig? Father of the Furious Fab Five Fingers, Lord of LipSync, Zen of Zany -- a man we came to know and love as Uncle LL -- left us way too soon.

Now the Grim Dude has taken another member of the teen-show elite: A couple of days ago, we lost Clay Cole, who ran a popular show for nine years on WNTA and WPIX-TV in NYC.
He died of a heart attack at his home in North Carolina, aged 72.

Someone once asked me why hosts like LL, Clay, Jimmy Kilgo and Dick Clark were so popular -- why their auras have stood the test of time. Was it because they showcased young talent? Or that they gave us a glimpse of "A"-list rockers like The Byrds, Johnny Rivers, Beau Brummels or Sonny and Cher??


The reason is simple: They took time to relate to us! To talk to us ... and, above all, to listen! Some were better at it than others (LL, though, was far-and-away the best!), but we felt as though we had a friend in the hosts -- they understood us.

There, Mighty Mousers, is THE difference ...

Bands like Charlotte, NC's The Young Ages (pictured) never made it to superstardom (though they were very good; my own band envied them!), but (dig this!) even thought they're still performing today, they remember the great Kilgo's Kanteen at WSOC-TV, and appreciate their exposure thanks to Bob (Champion, producer) and Jimmy himself.

TV execs today think that pre-taped studio interviews peppered with music videos is enough to tantalize teens to tune in. If they do a one-on-one with the star-of-the-moment, run a couple of their songs-set-to-mini-movie, it'll suffice.
Then, as the Neilsens show their market dwindling, they try to re-group, wondering where they're going wrong.

We know, don't we??

They're missing the personal touch that Lloyd, Clay, Dick, Jimmy and so many others gave us back then. They made it live -- they made it personal -- they made it heartfelt --

They made it ROCK!!

Stay tuned ...

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Christmas Program

This is actually an anchor page for the new Christmas greeting to my readers, friends, both or all (or something).
Hope y'all like it ...

(Okay ... mebbe it's just a tad unpolished, but you can thank this crazy head cold that accompanied me whilst recording ... but, geez ... the intention is gooood ... lol)

We'll get back to the regular schedule on Monday evening, but, 'til then, enjoy (on the program):

MATT HARDY (of The Fore)
THE SINGING DOGS (how could I forget?)

Stay tuned ...

Monday, December 13, 2010

Banned Bands and Wrong Songs

This was originally an "archive" post from another blog of mine. But ... well, you'll see why I'm running it here, with a few modifications:

Mousers, have ya heard the latest?? Amongst the Grammy noms this year is a song by some dude named Cee Lo Green, and it's ... wellll, let's just say it doesn't exactly have a musical title. In fact, the title is one that's been around for ages ...

One thing I can't understand is why the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences will allow that song, considering how the public (and, in some cases, NARAS itself!) treated others over the years. For example:

Wear My Ring (Around Your Neck Elvis' song was panned and banned by many Catholics because -- it promoted "going steady"! (by the way -- do kids do that anymore?? Ya never hear of it ...)

D. O. A. Bloodrock's 1971 (and only) hit was banned almost across-the-board, because it not only described the death of a teenaged girl in a crash (plane?), but, due to its music and tempo, gave many people nightmares! It was considered "too gory" for radio (however, Last Kiss was alright, right?).

ROCK MUSIC The BBC banned the whole genre from its airwaves until 1966 (partly. 1971, fully). Part of the reason: Promoters Jack Good and Larry Parnes promoted a stable of performers whose stage names were based on their ... ahem! ... sexual performance.

BAD BOY The Beatles' rocker (from Beatles '65 here in the States) was banned from AOR stations because it promoted "juvenile delinquency."

BROWN-EYED GIRL was banned in some markets because the original dealt with teenaged pregnancy. So Van Morrison recorded an alternate version to please the stations.

Listen to this: In El Paso, a radio station stopped playing all records by Bob Dylan because ... they couldn't understand his lyrics! (hey ... what's so hard about understanding peace??)

PICTURES OF LILY by The Who was banned in most markets because execs said it referred to masturbation. Funny ... years later, those same execs freely played Imaginary Lover by the Atlanta Rhythm Section.
What's the diff?

Record mogul Mike Curb, who was president MGM records in 1970, cancelled the recording contracts of 18 of the label's acts because he believed they promoted hard drugs in their songs. Among them: Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme! (sure ... and I guess his hit, Don't Be Afraid, Little Darlin', was a tempting lure into the psychedelic world! L-O-L!!)

In the aftermath of the Kent State shootings in 1970, the Ohio governor banned Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young's OHIO from being played. He was afraid it'd cause more violence (ummm ... wasn't it ... the National ... Guard ... that brought on the shootings?).

So, does it make sense that some of these songs (and their legendary artistes) would be banned, whilst a blatantly vulgar title, from a singer/rapper whom nobody knows yet (of course, he could turn into the next hip-hop superstar! I've gotta admit he has a great overall sound and stage presence ...) can not just be admitted to the airwaves (with its non-bleeped title), but be up for a Grammy to boot??

It's a weird world ...

Stay tuned ...

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A Language All Our Own

Of course, it's not always that way. Sometimes, the slang can be innocent -- and actually evoke memories of a remarkable period in our history. Here's a prime example:

As everybody who lived through them already knows, the Sixties weren't just about fantastic music, peace movements, wild clothes and a war we'll never forget. For many teens and above, there were certain drop-words that made you hip (P.S.: now that we're old[er], "hip" doesn't mean "cool", but a certain nagging point of arthritis). Some examples:

1. "Fab" was formerly the name of a laundry detergent. When the Beatles appeared with their British slang, it became the faddish abbreviation for "fabulous." Here at the tail end of 2010, it's the name of a laundry detergent again.
2. "Gear" once meant something that helped machinery work. In a way, it meant the same thing in rock: if something was "gear," it meant it was "groovily happening."
3. "Groovy" was a term used to describe the surface of LPs and 45s. Then it became our equivalent of "cool." Today (with vinyl being "out"), who knows what it means??
4. "In" and "Out". Either you were accepted into a certain crowd or not. Today, just a door sign ... or directions disregarded by the previous Administration.
5. "Uptight". If you were "stressed out" (millennium phrase) about something, you were "uptight".
6. "L7" was one of the most cryptic, and didn't really catch on in the Sixties (originally used by the Greenwich Village crowd back in the '50s) until Sam the Sham's "Hattie" warned "Mattie" not to be that way, but learn to dance in "Wooly Bully". If you put an "L" and a block-print "7" together, you've got ... a SQUARE!
7. "Outtasight" -- a word supposedly derived from the space program -- meant the same as today's "awesome" or "off-the-charts." The best of the best.
8. "Chick" -- okay, this one's been around for ages, and was inspired by W.C. Fields' My Little Chickadee. Meant "lovely, vivacious girl". It's not proper, though, because, as any farmer can tell ya, "chicks" grow up to eventually become "old hens" ... (PLEASE NOTE: THAT DOES NOT APPLY TO WOMEN! THEY GROW UP TO BECOME ABSOLUTELY BEAUTIFUL AND LIVELY!)

(ummmm ... am I off the hook yet?!? Good ... let's carry on, then ...).

9. Now, there are others (huh?? Oh ... because I value my life ... that's why!) that I probably missed out on, and if anyone remembers others, give me a shout-out.

So stay tun ... oh, wait:

while we're at it, lemme ask: Whatever happened to "going steady"? Remember?? It was when we and our dates had gotten serious enough that we promised not to date anyone else. Has it all but disappeared with the introduction of the techno age? Was it the disco phase that did it?

Just wondering ...

Stay tuned ...

... but What Made 'Em STARS??

A coupla years before he left us for the Ultimate Gig in the Sky, Uncle LL and I talked a bit about today's media darlings. This post is sortuva followup on that theme:

What really made today's cinematic and musical wonders into "stars" in the first place? Why don't the stars today enjoy the longevity that our generation's had/have?

Y'see, today's "beautiful people" live in a world of paparazzi (I guess, for that Britney person and others, it's 'mamarazzi' now, huh?), flash bulbs, excessive entertainment "reporters", vidcams and find themselves in every popular mag that begins with a vowel or consonant. They begin to believe their PR ...

but (news flash!) it's not the press that made them popular. Sure, they put them out there ... give 'em exposure ... but it's the BUYING PUBLIC who gobbles up every bit of info they can get, and "falls in love" with them!

Take Paris Hilton (please?). This girl's been on every mag short of the Catholic Journal (hey ... anything's possible!), and women really dig her line of perfume, etc. (like Just Love Me). She charges about (no, that wasn't a personal plea -- it's her line of perfume!) 7 G's just to appear somewhere. Inflated ego? Uh-huh. Her fans? Well, as long as they keep buying ...
But I'd bet my sweet bippy that, soon, her 15-seconds-of-fame's gonna be replaced by another Muffy Sweetcheeks. (by the way ... outside of lending her name to sweet smells, what exactly does Ms. Hilton do? Dance? Sing? Act? I mean, outside of "THAT" video ... ahem!)

But those whom Lloyd mentioned to me knew the secret of true success: Never ... NEVER ... forget who brought you to the dance to begin with! The fans are what makes ya, and, treat 'em wrong, they can break ya. Treat 'em right, though, and they'll be yours for life! Bill and Bobby knew it (that's why, even up to Bobby's untimely passing, they were still performing!) ... Sonny did, too ... and Roger Miller certainly knew it.

Some of the legends I've had the pleasure to meet over the past few years are like that. Two of the best examples is Frank Allen and John McNally of the Searchers. Another is Jon "Bowzer" Bauman of Sha Na Na (hey ... you just gotta catch his Rock'n Roll Party!) They know who buttered their bread, and they give as much back to the fans as they've been given ... sincerely ... and know that, at any time, it could end.
The list goes on: Gene Pitney. The Everly Brothers. Ron Ryan. "Moulty" Moulton of The Barbarians. Mike Lane. (I could keep going, but I'll run outta space ...)

Anyway ... see the tie-in? Longevity's not as much a matter of material as it is your priorities, both onstage and off.

Then, Uncle LL said something that made me feel "tower-tall" (I dunno which tower, so don't ask ...): He said, With so many people reading your blog, you're becoming somewhat of a star yourself!"

ME?!? Naaah ... it's you folks who are the stars. After all, it's your brightness and dedication -- to both Lloyd, the blogs, and the genre as a whole -- that's keepin' the skies of Rock illuminated!

He knew it, I knew it ... so does Aunt Barbara, Cuzzin' Gary B., and everyone else who was close to the Chief.

And the Chief always was upfront with the truth ...


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Lennon Lessons Learned

It's sad ...

I just heard a reporter say, "It only took a few shots from a madman's gun to destroy the dream of John Lennon".


Y'see, whilst we're all remembering that fateful Monday night in December, 1980, we also realise that, though Chapman killed the man who was Legend, he completely missed the legacy ... one that lives on to this day. And lessons that we learned thanks to Lennon's short life:

From the Fab Four's pre-fame days, we learned the value of perseverance -- don't give up on your dream, your goal -- ever! Oh, ya might have to tweak them a little to get what you want, but, if it's an honourable goal, don't give up!
From his days as a Beatle, we learned to make our own kind of music. Okay, maybe it doesn't sit well with some hard-nosers -- but, if it's honourable, if it makes a point -- and if it's you, go ahead and play it, no matter what you do in life.
We've learned to develop a sense of impish humour. After all, it is LIFE we live -- so show it. I dunno of anyone who was harmed by Lennon's wit ...

He also showed us to be honest, even if it costs you a little. He said (and rightly at the time) that The Beatles were "more popular than Christ", and society bristled. Beatle bonfires were everywhere -- and even a faux assassination "prank" occurred during their show in Memphis, Tenn. in 1966. But, as we all know, John recovered from that (as did Paul, George and Ringo) and created a new and exciting chapter in rock music with the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club album. They only became greater ...

Whilst he had his troubles in the Seventies, he also taught us to speak up -- become an activist for change! Sure, he got Nixon's attention -- but he also inspired young people from around the world to stand up and be counted -- and not back down!

He taught us about the importance of dads being as involved in raising their children as the moms are (his five years as "househusband" to help raise Sean); how to finally beat an addiction (preferring -- behind Yoko's back, he would jest -- chocolate to cocaine); and how to change for, reconcile with and truly love your spouse!

John was truly a "Working Class Hero" -- an Everyman who'd made his mark on the world with fame given by millions of fans, and paid them back with the ultimate compliment -- by becoming one of them rather than another untouchable celebrity darling ...

Though John is thirty years' gone now, the lessons we picked up from him will go on forever ...


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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

We'll Always Remember This Day

Thirty years ago today, one of the greatest icons -- possibly the greatest -- in rock music history was brutally gunned down. This simulcast refers to my reaction to the murder of ... John Lennon!

Do you remember where you were and what you were doing when you heard "the news" that John Lennon had been gunned down?

I'd gone to bed about 10:30 PM that Monday night, worn-out after a long day of scripting for The Birth of Superock! documentary. The next morning, I was to take our young son, Tim, to the daycare, then hit Santa Maria Restaurant near downtown Pineville for breakfast.

Tuesday morning, 7:30 AM found me on the way to the eatery after dropping Tim off at the Little Red Schoolhouse. Everyone was in such a rush that morning, we didn't even try to turn on the TV or radio. As I was going down the home stretch of Polk St., I turned on the car radio. The Long and Winding Road was playing; not my favourite Beatles song, but very strong and emotional. Turning the tuning knob to find others, it seemed like every station was playing Beatles' music. Having been a fan of the lads, and especially John, I thought, "Man, what a coincidence! These guys are all playing the best of the Fab Four."

After jockeying for a parking place, I got out of the car and headed straight for the newspaper rack. We'd had a scare from a nuclear plant at nearby Steele Creek and I wanted to catch up on the latest news whilst my breakfast was being prepared.

What I saw, blaring from the newspaper in the rack, paralyzed me as a cold chill ran through my body. I felt light-headed, and dropped the quarter from my hand. As it rolled to God-knows-where, I just stood and stared in disbelief. The headline - plastered across the top of the paper - read, simply:
Underneath was his famous "glasses" picture from the Walls and Bridges album.
My heart nearly pounding out of my chest, I fished another quarter out of my pocket and got a copy of the paper.

I walked inside the restaurant in a complete daze -- more like a zombie, really. The news explained the constant Beatles music I'd heard on the way in.

When I finally sat down to wait for Lambrini, the waitress (also the wife of the owner, Pete Karagounis), I noticed everybody else was reading the same story. A guy at the table next to me turned to me and said, Well, he asked for it! I looked over, tears in my eyes, and growled loudly, SINCE WHEN DOES ANYBODY ASK TO BE MURDERED?? It shut him up ... and I began reading. Hesitantly. I didn't want to believe this was real.

Lambrini knew I liked coffee, so she brought me a cup and whispered, knowingly, I'll come back when you're ready, Chuck. I nodded slowly, because I was too busy reading. And re-reading. And reading again.
After about thirty minutes, she came and took my order. When she returned, my nose was still in that paper, and I was becoming angrier by the moment. I mean, how could anyone kill this man in cold blood??

An hour later -- my food still sitting there -- I just got up from my table, started to go to the cashier ... but Penny just nodded slowly and let me go on. Guess maybe my sadness showed a bit.
When I got back in the Green Hornet (AMC model, colour green), I just sat there ... tears streaming down my face, motor running ... and tuned in Big WAYS again just to hear the song Happy Xmas (War Is Over). That did it. I broke down and cried ...

Then I headed back home. No work today ... I just couldn't ...

Whilst the daytime programmes continued as scheduled, the noon news was filled with coverage: all the fans outside the Dakota highrise, where John and Yoko lived -- and where he was brutally gunned down by an alleged "fan". I hung onto every word, every visual, transfixed on our little set. My (now ex-) wife was at her new job at Rexham Packaging in Pineville, so the house was mine until she returned. I quickly put in a VCR tape and hit "record" -- this was truly the worst rock tragedy the world had ever known.

All afternoon afterward, I played every Beatles and Lennon song I had on cassette (about 20, all told). I didn't feel like eating but smoked (I used to do three packs a day back then!) like it was goin' outta style. Then, a little before six, she came in the door. She'd heard the news -- and laughed about it! I kept my patience; after all, the 6:00 news was coming on.

Bill Walker of WSOC-TV broke the news as the lead story, much as he did Elvis' death a little over three years earlier. He cut to a network reporter who voiced-over the scene of Lennon's body being taken to the hospital. Apparently, according to him, the gunman was upset because The Beatles had said they were bigger than Christ and, later, due to John's "blasphemy" of Christ in the Beatle hit, The Ballad Of John and Yoko.

Man, I was completely furious by that! I slammed off the TV, and stormed out the front door. THAT BASTARD! I mumbled, He's like every OTHER idiot! HE GOT IT WRONG!! Yeah, The Beatles were more popular -- with KIDS -- when they said it. And the SONG? My God ... John was TALKING to Christ in the chorus! LISTEN TO IT AS WORDS, WITHOUT SINGING IT!!

After regaining my composure, I went on and picked up our son Tim from the Schoolhouse -- where one of the workers, Gayle Day, was sobbing. She was the last one there, and one of the parents had just broken the news to her.

Now, here it is, thirty years after-the-fact ... and it's still haunting the hell outta me! But if there's one good side to this, it's that, whilst John is gone from us, HIS LEGACY STILL LIVES ON! As long as there are believers and protesters and desirers of peace; as long as there are bands who play with the same gusto as he and mates Paul, George and Ringo did; as long as there's life in all we do -- creativity, striving for the unity of man in the process --
as long as there's LOVE ...
those things in which John Ono (nee Winston) Lennon believed will never die ...

Monday, December 6, 2010

Oogum-Boogum with Louie

Y'know, it's a cryin' shame when ignorance stands in the way of a good, danceable record and some serious airplay.
For example, when The Five DuTones recorded their hit, Shake A Tail Feather, some Bible belt radio dropped them from their playlists because they didn't think "Bend over, let me see you shake your tail feather" was nicety-nice ... and that the lyric hook was a slang word for a certain ... er, female anatomical part!
Now, if ya listen closely, you'll find that particular word is actually a build-up into the word "WATUSI!", in which ... the female dancer, er, "bends over and ... shakes her tail (feather)!"
But these same zealots ripped the first big hit of soul artist Brenton Wood (the Oogum-Boogum song) because, again, they said the last lyrics into fade were, again, slanging that anatomical part (geez ... do these cats obsess or what?).

WRONGGGGGG! Look ... courtesy the Relic, here are the actual words:
"I just says,
Who got the boo, says,
Who got the boo, says.
Who got the boo, now,
Castin' your spell on me.

Now I says,
Oo ga ka boo, says,
Oo ga ka boo, says,
Oo ga ka boo, now,
Castin' your spell on me."

Remember -- the dude's under a spell, and, if ya read the last line, you'll see she's "castin' (her) spell on (him)". He's repeating her spell, so the listener can know what she's doing! That's all ...

Of course, the most famous of the alleged "red label" songs is the late Richard Berry's hit as first recorded by the Kingsmen: Louie, Louie. For years, many have thought it had some sexual meaning behind it. Hey ... the truth is, it's a song about a guy at sea! No more, no less. He's wantin' to get back with his girl, who's waiting for him. Simple -- no muss, no fuss, no bother.

In today's world, we've had everything from Dr. CC (Clarence Carter) doing We've Got To Funk to Sir Mix-A-Lot's Baby Got Back, Madonna's Like A Virgin and a carload of newer stuff making it to the airwaves. Yet, many of the "oldies" stations still won't play the songs listed above, although (1) Ray Charles -- with the Blues Brothers -- did "Tail Feather" in the Brothers' movie, (2) Brenton Wood had a monster hit later with "Gimme A Little Sign" and (3) almost every group (including the Raiders!) covered Louie, Louie over the years (it's been called the classic garage band rocker).

But, at least now the lyrics are given credence. So let's get 'em back on the air, huh??

Stay tuned ...

Christmas Notes ...

Hey ... that thing's supposed to be glittering! (sigh!) Ahhhh, well ... just use your imagination ...

A coupla weeks ago, a friend of mine (who's more than a little skeptical about the season) asked how we came up with the 25th as Christmas, anyway. Well, the real deal came about 1,560 years ago in Rome, Italy (450 A.D. Sometimes the date varies, depending on whom you read), when Pope Julius I decreed that that particular calendar-day would be celebrated as Christmas Day. Then he asked how, of all things, we came up with the moniker of Santa Claus for the Kris Kringle character.
Actually, those two dudes are totally separate. The "Claus" name is a derivative of Saint Nicholas; if you say his name repetitively and quickly, you eventually end up with something that sounds like Santa Claus.

Awww, enough with the history lesson already! Let's move on ...

I've also been asked (as most of you have at one time or another) what my favorite Christmas song is. Or "was". Or will be "was" in three days. Well, the Relic's gonna sound a bit out-of-the-merry on this one, but I've gotta go with The Beatles' "Christmas Time Is Here Again," recorded in December '66 as a special season's greeting for their fans. Later (after the Fab Four parted company), Ringo re-recorded the song on his own.

My fave movie repeat on TV, outside It's A Wonderful Life, has gotta be the Gary Cooper/Barbara Stanwyck classic Meet John Doe. With a lot of similarities to " ... Life," (the Jimmy Stewart classic came out five years later) it not only had a feel for the human condition but, more importantly, the storyline (powerful muckrakers vs. the common man) is also uncannily applicable to today's social and political climate. A warm ending ala Capra, but with a powerful message throughout it all. This is one you've gotta see!


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Sunday, December 5, 2010

A Thaxton By Any Other Name ...

If there's one thing I love about being a writer and publicist, it's all the people I get to meet. All of them have stories to tell, and most of those are actually riveting.
But there was one guy I met that was more than that -- his story was downright eerie:

His daddy was originally from Kentucky, but moved his brood to "just outside Toledo" many years ago. He'd gone through military service, and eventually landed in L.A. to find work in the media.
Almost mimicking, chapter-and-verse, what a distant cousin had done. The only difference was that, unlike his cuz, he came back to the laid-back life of the Bluegrass State.

Now, you know who his cousin was, right?? Right. Jamie Farr.

Not really. Yes, it was our own Uncle Lloyd. Now, this was the second time I was able to talk with Michael Thaxton at length, but there was something a little ... different about him.
The first time I met him, the Chief was still with us. When I mentioned Mike to him, he reminded me that he had so many relatives that he couldn't remember them all, much less "distant" relatives. But he admitted that Mike sounded like he came from the same tree.

But, this time (around 7 PM yesterday), I couldn't help noticing that, minus the beard, mustache and glasses that Lloyd has in that pic up there on the left, he was the spitting image of our Fearless Leader (well, he didn't really spit; it was just some coffee that he spilled ...), all the way to the shock of white hair, combed and textured just the same as LL's! And, with the exception of that famous Kentucky drawl, the tone and timbre of his voice resembled him as well!
He proved, though, that a Thaxton by any other (first) name can be just as nice, humourous and outgoing as Uncle Lloyd -- especially if he's a relative ...

Stay tuned ...


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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Who Blames The Boomers?

Didja read in the USA Today™ where some of the other generations -- fore and aft -- are blaming the "baby boomers" (aka "us") for the problems we're having in the world??

According to a recent Gallup Poll of 1,011 adults who were reached by phone (I ask you: have you ever been contacted by these number-crunchers? Thought so. Neither have I ...), 39% say we've made things worse for our kids; 37% say we're "selfish" and 41% say we're too idealistic.

But, wait a minute: Isn't that the same as saying a Yugo (remember those? The cars that shoulda been called Itmightgo? The ones who come with replacement hamsters for the motor?) failed because "after all, it's a ... (nose stuck up in the air) CAAAAAR!!"?

Let's take a closer look at the stats, okay?
Ummm ... didja notice that this graph came from the same source as the article that dissed us?? And, somehow, it seems the graph reflects the positive we've accomplished!

Gee ... for a generation that witnessed the assassinations of JFK, Robert Kennedy, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King, Jr., caused the political unrest that changed a country's thought-processes, saw men walk on the moon, risked the draft into the Vietnam War, fought in the War as well as fought against it in anti-war protests, brought civil, environmental, women's, youth voting and other rights to the forefront, saw President Nixon's resignation, went to Woodstock and similar music festivals, rocked to the sounds that changed music history, from The Beatles to Jimi Hendrix, I think, all-in-all, we've done pretty good, Mousers. So hold your heads up proudly and ...

stay tuned ...


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Sunday, November 28, 2010

I Saw It On Lloyd Thaxton ...

Okay, who remembers their first high-school dances?
Let me refresh your memory: the high-school gym, portable record-player, jitters because you didn't know who your teacher was gonna pair you up with??

The year was 1965; the scene, Quail Hollow Junior High School (now they're called "middle" schools, like there's a top and a bottom one somewhere). I entered the Arena of Embarrassment courtesy of my parents, who'd faithfully held the secret that I actually had two left feet. We were told to form a circle around the floor perimeter (which was weird, because the floor layout was rectangular. And these were teachers who told us?!?). Then Mrs. Lotta Wurdz would match each girl with a guy who was totally un-cool so we could commence the dance.
Nowadays, they call it computer dating, don't they?

Now, I already had a "girlfriend", but she couldn't make it to the dance ... so Mrs. Wurdz hooked me up with Modine Farquhar. She wasn't the prettiest girl in school but, at 6'2 and very "sculpted" (think Schwarzenegger), we all respected her ...

After a couple of slow dances during which my aching toes were about to resign my feet, the music changed to Dance, Dance, Dance by The Beach Boys. Suddenly, Modine started wigglin' and jumpin' like she had a squirrel in her drawers or something! I asked her (from a distance) what she was doing and she said it was something she made up. Called it the Frugatusi. I asked her (hesitantly. Don't make her mad, Chuckie ...) where she'd learned it.

She said, I saw it on Lloyd Thaxton last week. Now, this was before I'd met Uncle Lloyd, but, somehow, I just knew he wouldn't allow that on his show (PS Whenever we watched or talked about his programme, we'd only use his name and not The ... Show. He really was like a relative to us!). She'd seen these done individually (the Frug and Watusi) and decided to mix them up to something nonsensical. Somehow, I had a feeling she belonged in Washington ...

For some reason, though, after her "dance", the clear blue Charlotte skies suddenly produced a torrential rain, and the rest of the event was cancelled. Years later, at an outside gig where I was performing, she was amongst the fans and broke out in that same dance! Uh-huh ... started raining again within minutes!

Still, all in all, whilst we all learned a few steps from watchin' the TV teens on Uncle Lloyd's show, I'm just glad she didn't mix the Mashed Potato and Locomotion. But, then again, that's what the slow dances were to my feet ... Mashed Motion!

Stay tuned ... (PS cartoon © T. McCracken, Thanks, guys ... And, whilst everything else was all real, the name of the dancing partner and the teacher have been changed. I must protect my remaining feet from retaliation somehow ...)


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Thursday, November 25, 2010

Post-Turkey Kick-Off

That's right -- we're kickin' off the new season (?!) of this blog with the latest news, a new band ... and a very special offer! But, before we begin (and seein' as the Christmas season is officially underway now), lemme share the same one-size-fits-all greeting that Uncle Lloyd and I worked up a few years ago:
(This is a mix of "Merry Christmas", "Happy Holidays" and "Seasons Greetings". That way, nobody's offended, right? Now ... let's move on:)


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KEEP YER EARS PERKED for the smash new UK band, The Van Susans! Olly Andrews and Olly Groome, along with brothers Rob, Ed and Tim Dullaway, create a sound and presence that's drawing fans from all corners of the world! One listen to their trax (you'll find them on-site) and you'll become a solid fan of these lads! BTW, they'll be interviewed on Artist First World Radio Network on 9 December -- and you'll definitely wanna tune in! I'll give ya the times soon ...
Y'know, with The Fore, Stackridge, Van Susans, The 286 and other fab acts coming out of London-and-beyond, you've just gotta believe we're at the cusp of a new British Invasion, people! And it's gonna be awesome ...

AWHILE BACK, I ASKED Facebookers for their fave bands or acts. Y'see, the plan was to do an in-depth post on these bands, possibly even interviewing existing members.

Well, a very lovely embodiment of peace from Colorado, A'ashem Muti, wrote: My favorite, of course, is Canned Heat. They have a Facebook presence; perhaps you could interview them? Most of the classic-era lineup is dead, of course, but drummer Fito de la Parra and bassist Larry Taylor are still active and keep the band name going.

This is something I definitely wanna do, A'ashem! The band (Going Up The Country, Let's Work Together, On The Road Again) was the epitome of peace-in-music: with basic instruments, Canned Heat mixed easy-but-heartfelt vocals with simple rhythm patterns and great scoring to make some of the greatest music of our generation! And if the guys (especially Fito -- I've always been a fan of his) would do an interview with RRR, I'd be honoured. Nonetheless, look for the post on the band, coming soon ...

FROM THE ROCKWIRE: Billy Joel underwent double hip replacement surgery at a Long Island hospital this past Saturday. The 61 year-old "Piano Man" had been hobbling around on a cane (and even crutches!) before the operation but now is said to be doing extremely well.

And condolences to Marty Balin of the legendary Jefferson Airplane. His wife, Karen Deal, died this past Friday in Tampa, Fla, aged 57.
She'd choked on a piece of food at a Tampa restaurant a month ago and went into a coma from the lack of oxygen. She'd played keyboard and bass for the local group, Mod Squad, and had met Marty when her band once opened for Jefferson Airplane.

Okay, that's it for this post. But we'll have more on Wednesday evening, so ...
stay tuned!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


CONGRATULATIONS TO DAN HUGHES of CHAMPAIGN, ILLINOIS!! He knew the "mystery band" in our last two posts was a 1971 shot of the new act called ... ZZ TOP!!Dan was general manager of WPCD-FM for 26 years and has written books like The Treasure Hunter's Manual and Tips, Tricks and Secrets for Radio Disc Jockeys (I wish I'd had this one back-in-the-day!).

For more on this amazing rocker (he's also part of the highly-fab My-Generation kaffeklatsche on Yahoo!Groups and was an avid fan of The Lloyd Thaxton Show), check out his site at Dan

So, Dan, congratulations again, mate! Your brand-spanking-new LENNONYC DVD will be on its way shortly ...

Everybody else? Keep tuning in ... 'cause I'll have more contests coming up soon!

Contest Continues (with HINTS!)

Okay ... you might've seen it on the PBS programme American Masters™ last night -- the story of John Lennon from his arrival in New York City in 1971 to his senseless murder in 1980. If ya tuned in, you heard rare music, saw interviews and never-before-seen footage of both John and Yoko.

And now you -- yes, YOU! -- can win a brand-new, still-in-its-wrapping copy of the LENNONYC DVD for your very own! (G-gee ... I ... I feel just like that announcer on The Price Is Right. I ... oh. Sorry [heh-heh!] I, ummm, got Carey-ed away ...)

Contest open to those 21 or older or younger. Must be a resident of U.S., Canada, UK, or other countries if known and on world map. Send your entry in a stamped, self-addressed envelope to or, if on Facebook®, you know what to do. Contest ends when a winner is picked, whaddya think? Actually, winner will be notified by email or Facebook.

Now, since it seemed quite a few of you knew that the Tico of Tico and The Triumphs was actually Paul Simon, it leaves us with one act to go!
"C'monnnnn, Cuzzin Relic ... can'tcha give us a CLUE??? Puh-LEEEZE??"
Awright! Awright! Here's yer second clue (the first was in yesterday's post):
They look a little different 'cause they're "clean-shaven". Yeah, I know they're younger in the past ... but they were destined to make it to the Top!

Okay? Let's see if somebody can come up with the answer within the next 24 hours, okay? (especially since I've given you two choice hints!) Ready? Set?? GO FOR IT ...

and stay tuned ...

Monday, November 22, 2010

Look. Think . Guess. WIN!!

Okay ... you might've seen it on the PBS programme American Masters™ last night -- the story of John Lennon from his arrival in New York City in 1971 to his senseless murder in 1980. If ya tuned in, you heard rare music, saw interviews and never-before-seen footage of both John and Yoko.

And now you -- yes, YOU! -- can win a brand-new, still-in-its-wrapping copy of the LENNONYC DVD for your very own! (G-gee ... I ... I feel just like that announcer on The Price Is Right. I ... oh. Sorry [heh-heh!] I, ummm, got Carey-ed away ...)

Contest open to those 21 or older or younger. Must be a resident of U.S., Canada, UK, or other countries if known and on world map. Send your entry in a stamped, self-addressed envelope to or, if on Facebook®, you know what to do. Contest ends when a winner is picked, whaddya think? Actually, winner will be notified by email or Facebook.

And all ya gotta do is name the following acts:

First, tell me the name of this band (hint: They've been one of America's most popular bands since 1975). The pic was made back in their earrrrrrly days:Now, for this next one, tell me who the dude on the top is. Today, he's better known by his real name. The band here, btw, is Tico and The Triumphs:

Okay? Let's see if somebody can come up with the answer within 24 hours. Ready? Set?? GO FOR IT ...

and stay tuned ...

How to make it better? KISS it!

Well, last night I finally gave in and let the mighty, magical cable surround me with its small-screen, cinematic glory!
And, frankly, after about fifteen minutes, I tried to un-bore myself by re-tying my shoes. Not that the show was bad, but instead of tying my left shoe, the shoelaces started to look conspicuously like a noose!

Most of the shows that are on the air, whether on cable or standard network channels. could use a dose of Uncle Lloyd's advice!
Once we were talkin' about television and all the stuff they put on these days in the name of "entertainment". He told me that, if they'd just keep it sweet and simple (ie, "KISS" it), these shows would go over a lot better -- and the Great God Neilsen would smile strongly upon them.

Basically, it boils down to this: DON'T COMPLICATE WHAT DOESN'T NEED TO BE COMPLICATED!! Leave that to PBS ... and concentrate on the show's "sweet-spot", or what causes the viewers to turn 'em on in the first place.

That's exactly what Lloyd did! He knew that his audience -- mostly teens, but also those up into their twenties -- were kinetic! They wanted something that'd make them feel not only alive, but like they really mattered! And, of course, they wanted their music!!!
And Uncle LL gave 'em all of that in a spontaneous, fun way that no one's been able to duplicate!

Why don't we have that today?? Well, it really all boils down to two almost-wirty durds: AD REVENUE!! If you want the big guys to settle their ad account on your doorstep, you listen to what they say!

Note ... not the viewers ... but the advertisers!

Hopefully, someday they'll take a page outta the Head Mouser's book and read it! Then they'll really know how successful programming's done!

Stay tuned ...

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Homeless Misconceptions

All too often, people have misconceptions about the homeless; they shy away more often due to these than to any personal or physical repulsiveness. So, in this last post, let's clarify some of these, okay? We'll return to the ROCK arena on Monday:

#1 They're gonna ask me for money.
Most homeless people still have a bit of pride and won't -- I repeat, won't -- ask you for a dime! Y'see, it seems that Hollywood has made street people into panhandlers when, in fact, Most panhandlers HAVE places to stay, and are simply doing it because they know it's an effortless way to get extra money.

#2 Homeless people are mostly criminals. Sorry to disappoint you but, according to Dr. Pamela Fischer of Johns Hopkins University, non-homeless people commit 10% more crimes against people or property than the homeless!

#3 They're either mentally ill or drug abusers. According to James Wright of Tulane University, only 40% of the homeless are substance abusers, while only 25% are mentally ill. Most homeless people are sober and mentally-healthy.

#4 They're all living on welfare. Not according to Homeless American, which did an extensive research on the homeless. They found that, nationally, only 20% get some kind of government payments. And, with government cuts happening all around us, these payments (as well as any medical help) are starting to dwindle down!

Of all the misconceptions, the big question posed by many is: Then why are they not climbing OUT of it? You know ... FIND a home??

It's largely because, after a time on the streets, they become so discouraged that they eventually don't even try! But it's also because it takes about two months of accrued paychecks for them to actually have enough to rent a place, pay their bills and get groceries. Thanks to the wear-and-tear of the streets, it's very hard to get a good job with decent pay (remember: I've been there!).

ONE MORE WORD BEFORE CONTINUING: It's doubly hard to reminisce because, as a known eidetic (one with a photographic memory), all the memories are crystal-clear. Yes, I've had a coupla rough, wake-in-the-middle-of-the-night dreams since we started this -- but that's not unusual; it occurs in people long after they come off the streets.

One quick word before moving on:

There are still many thousands of homeless scattered in cities, towns and villages across the world -- not just Charlotte, or Ashland, or London. Even well-known figures like David Letterman, Jim Carrey, Dr. Phil, Chuck Negron of "Three Dog Night" and Daniel Craig (James Bond) have been there. For those still there, please remember their plight ... and pray for them all.
And don't think -- even for a minute -- that it can't happen to you.
Because -- about sixteen years after I ended up there -- there were others added to the roles. You folks in Charlotte know what I'm talking about:

September 22, 1989. Hurricane Hugo.

Stay tuned ...

Friday, November 19, 2010

Pt 2: A Homeless Journey

We're continuing the first-hand account of what it's like to be homeless. As I said, it's a true story, published first in the Ashland (KY) Journal> in hopes of raising awareness during Homelessness Awareness Week, understand that it's even harder for me -- because it's my story:

As I ended the last post, two of my so-called "friends" from the street, "Popjack" and "Head", had turned on me. Whilst I was using the bathroom in Milner Mecklenburg Hotel, they barged in with a shank (a homemade knife) -- with the apparent intention of raping me!

With an growing, evil grin, "Head" let out a low, evil laugh as he said, "Okay, boy ... let's see what you've got down there ..."
As they slowly converged on the stall where I was sitting, my groggy mind started racing -- I started to hyperventilate and panic at the same time. Suddenly, a thought flashed through my brain. "WAIT! I'm former military -- and THESE are just two old drunken fools. Hell, I can take 'em!" So, after taking a shaky-but-deep breath, I bolted upright, pulled my pants up and lunged at them -- knocking "Head", who had the shank, straight into his partner!
Popjack screamed a couple of cuss words as he threw him off, starting a tremendous fight between the two. Meanwhile, I flew out the door, down the stairs and out of the hotel.
For the rest of the night -- and two ensuing nights, when I was through "pounding the pavement"-- I'd hole up at the Union Bus Station.
By this time, the streets were taking a big toll on my psyche. I felt trapped. Nobody cared whether I lived or died, and it was just too easy not to do anything at all. Welcome to the world of the living zombies, Chuck ...

On the third night, the police made their midnight "drunk sweep" at the Station. It was where about five of them would come in, round up the drunks who were loitering there and take them to jail for booking. On that night, I realised they were on their way in, so, to avoid being caught, I quickly left via the station's side door -- where a cop was standing!
He motioned for me to come to him, grabbed me by the shoulder and barked "Get in the car! You're drunk!!" (I wasn't, I swear!) He didn't frisk me -- probably thinking that street people wouldn't have anything on them anyway -- and just threw me into the back seat. Then he loaded two rowdy drunks before taking us to the jail
Before exiting the car and heading into the booking room, he handcuffed us individually. Once inside, another officer did some paperwork, asked a few questions, then had me fingerprinted and photographed. He said I had an outstanding warrant for a worthless check from the South Boulevard Park-N-Shop (a grocery store) and said, "You're gonna spend the night with us!" (I remember this very clearly. I also remembered the check. It was written in 1971 for ... two dollars!)
Whilst filling out the earlier paperwork, he had asked my next-of-kin, and I gave him my parents' name and number. So he said, "While you're in here, somebody'll call your parents and let them know where you are. They can decide whether they want you to stay or not!"
The next morning -- after, admittedly, finally having a decent night's sleep with a blanket and cot and everything (although there was a guy in the next cell slurrily yelling "Marshal! U.S. Marshal!" all night), they picked me up, signed some forms, and took me back to their house.

But, whilst the streets were now behind me, another part of the nightmare had just begun.
Y'see, I'd already seen a man die of an overdose at Zayre Shopping Center on South Blvd (though I'd tried drugs before, it was enough to get me to quit cold turkey!); I'd survived the only suicide attempt in my life (let's just say the shame of the streets don't leave you easily); I'd been knifed (slightly), was divorced, and influenced to join a cult (from which I broke out in 1975 with the help of a man who was instrumental in my becoming a DJ and rock journalist).
Still, the prejudice that occurs when you're a street person often continues, even after you leave that part of your life, and provides the worst hurt of all. People don't forgive easily (including family, apparently) -- and they never forget.
And nothing drove this home more than an experience that I had shortly after my street days (I thought) were over.

I was working as a Unit Control Manager at J.B. Ivey Warehouse on Griffith Rd. in Charlotte. It was our practice to hire men from an uptown labor pool to help us on an as-needed basis. One day, I noticed one of these workers was a guy who was pure trouble on the streets. In fact, I had to fight him off more than once back then.
On a Wednesday afternoon, Mr. Jolly (my boss. Real name! A great guy, btw ...) put me in "charge" of Ed and Don as we delivered a mattress set in-town. When we returned, I went into the break room to call my new girlfriend, Kitty (it lasted for two months. She left when she learned about my past). Ed was waiting beside me with his old, wornout brown coat on -- and his hand in his right coat pocket.
Now, Dave Davis (the area manager) noticed something in Ed's hand and quietly approached him, leading the temp into his office. When I got off the phone, he called me in there. By then, Ed was gone. Fired.
Thank God!
You see, Ed never forgot me -- and, on that particular day, brought a .38 caliber pistol with him. Turned out that he had his hand in his right pocket, on the gun, finger on the trigger, and was planning on shooting me as soon as I hung up the phone!

Look ... since this is gettin' pretty long, let me just close by saying that homeless people need your support and encouragement long after they leave the streets. Now, tomorrow, we'll straighten out some misconceptions about the homeless --
so stay tuned .... (P.S. after the next post, we'll get back to the business of ROCK ...)

Pt 1: A Homeless Jorney

NOTE: Whilst this is off the "ROCK" topic, it's appropriate, because, in the U.S., it's homelessness awareness week. So I'm presenting this, which originally ran in the Ashland (KY) Journal.

What you're about to read is a first-hand account of what it's like to be homeless. Parts of this will be a bit hard to take, but it is all true. Written in hopes of making people more aware of the homeless, understand that it's even harder for me -- because it's my story:

SETTING THE STAGE: I'd lost my job, and my wife and I had separated. At 22 years old, I knew very little about the downtown Charlotte area, but my ratty suitcase, $25 and I had found a roach-infested flophouse called Travelers' Hotel a few blocks down West Trade Street.
After two nights there, I was broke; my parents said I couldn't come back there since I was a man and should be able to fend for myself -- and I was scared. I had never been homeless before. What was I going to do? Where could I go? What about ... my son? He was just a baby when we split. GOD, I missed him! Why would a loving God let me hurt like this??

Now, unlike Ashland/Huntington, which has missions that can take in homeless, Charlotte's shelters were few and far between back then. For someone who'd never even known about those places, much less anyone who'd tell him, it meant nights sleeping wherever I could -- on a bench in Old Settlers' Cemetery, in an old, abandoned warehouse (providing I'd always be careful crawling through broken windows), or scrunched up in a water-heater box behind the hotel. I had no friends who'd take me in, no help from anyone ... and, on the streets, you always had to sleep with "one eye open."

And, where Ashland has a Community Kitchen open to everyone, with free and tasty meals every weekday (twice on Tuesdays and Thursdays), Charlotte didn't have those. And there were no local clothes closets, food pantries or anything, like we have here. That meant scrounging through trash cans and dumpsters in the clothes I'd worn for weeks, looking for old, discarded food (as long as the police didn't see me). It didn't matter if it had ants on it or mold or anything -- I learned to simply brush them off, break off the mold and swallow it without thinking about it much.

After a month of this, I was down from about 150 to 110 pounds. Other than hunger and worry, another reason for this was my walking: I'd go to the library to look in the Charlotte Observer's want ads nearly every day. If I found any, I'd try for them (a job was really my only ticket off these damned streets!). For example, I'd walk down to South Boulevard to apply at one, but the manager would take one look at me and summarily turn me down. Then it'd be a ten-mile walk to Central Avenue where I'd get the same treatment.

Once, there was a real treat: Two street guys who'd become friendly with me -- "Popjack" and "Head" -- told me that, if the front desk wasn't manned, I could stay in the lobby of the old Milner Mecklenburg Hotel, just a block and across the road from Travelers'. Just crash in one of the torn, urine-stained chairs near the TV.
Though the lobby reeked of a mix of cigarette smoke, urine and Pine Sol, it was like a palace to me by then! So I took them up on the offer. And it worked fine -- until about 2 AM, when I had to go upstairs to the bathroom. When I got inside and was "settled" on the toilet, I heard the door open. There stood both "Popjack" and "Head" -- a gleam in their eyes ... and some kind of sharp object in their hands!
With an growing, evil grin, "Head" let out a low, evil laugh as he said, "Okay, boy ... let's see what you've got down there ..."
(Pt. 2 follows in 24 hours ...)

Every day, thousands of others go through much the same thing as I did during those days in 1973. Some of them actually are determined to fight their way out of it. Many others don't.
So, before we continue to Part 2 (tomorrow), please find it in your hearts to pray for these, help out at your local food pantries, soup kitchens or wherever you can give these people your support.